Give room to utility workers

Give room to utility workers

Missouri motorists are now required to move over for utility vehicles as part of an expanded law aimed at making roadways safer for workers.

A new law improving public safety for utility workers, such as those employed by Cuivre River Electric, becomes effective Aug. 28. The measure adds utility vehicles to a list of other emergency vehicles, including police, fire and tow trucks, where motorists are required to move over in order to give workers space to do their jobs.

The law requires drivers approaching a utility vehicle with flashing lights to move over from the lane closest to the vehicle if it is possible or slow to a safe speed.

The new law is welcome news for utility workers. A few years ago Cuivre River lineman Clint Courtney was part of a crew setting a new pole adjacent to a road. He walked back to the truck to grab a shovel.

All of a sudden, a side view mirror brushed against his shoulder.

"I remember a car coming through and  I stood flat against the truck," said Courtney, who was also wearing a bright-colored safety vest at the time. "I felt the mirror hit my arm."

Having signs, orange cones and brighter lights present have helped alert drivers approaching a job site, but more safety improvements were needed. These days, some drivers also are becoming more distracted by their cellphones.

"It makes you think what if I took one more step or if they had been over a few more inches," Courtney recalled.

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